Chicken in Brown Ale

The idea for this recipe occurred simply because I couldn’t make what I originally wanted. Last weekend, I got a fierce craving for Stifado; that wonderful Greek stew of slow cooked Beef or Lamb (although Rabbit is good, too) in a rich, red wine-heavy sauce, sweetened with Silverskin Onions or Shallots. I simply didn’t have time to make it – Stifado is not a dish to be rushed. Four hours in the oven, minimum. Slooooow cooking.

What I did have, however, was Chicken and  – more importantly – a bulb of Smoked Garlic. The sheer oak-smoked scent of it in the kitchen was seriously making me hungry, and I made up my mind; Chicken Stifado. But – obviously – with beer. Brown Ale, to be precise. A quick trip to Beerritz, a chat with Ghostie, and an Achel Bruin appeared in my kitchen. Onwards and upwards.

So, you’ll need a whole chicken, quartered – if you’re doing it yourself, leave the wing in the breasts but cut the breast away from the bone, leaving the skin on. In a large stockpot, peel and half (leave them chunky) about 10 decent-sized shallots – more if smallerSaute them in Olive Oil and don’t be afraid to let them catch and caramelise a little. When softened, add your chicken and brown the skin. You just want to put colour on the chicken, as it’s got a long cook ahead of it.

Smoke 'em if you got 'em

When browned, remove the chicken and pour 3/4 of the beer into the shallots; stir and season with Black Pepper and a tablespoon of dark or brown sugar. Drink the rest of the beer as you go – cook’s bonus. Simmer on a low heat for 3-5 minutes then add one tin of chopped tomatoes and 4 chopped fresh tomatoes. This might sound strange, but add a splash of Malt Vinegar,too – it’s gives it a nice tang and is crucial in Stifado – so why not here? Stir, and then add the whole clove of smoked garlic. Yep – all of it, chopped fine or minced. Stir and add the chicken. Coat the chicken in the sauce and simmer on a medium to low heat for about 90 minutes. If it’s too thin; add a little cornflour mixed with cold water. You want sauce, but it does need to be reduced thickly.


When you’re ready, serve with crusty bread for mopping up. The boozy sweetness of the Brown Ale really compliments the smoky/sweet tomato sauce, and you’ll find that Chicken actually gets really moist cooked like this and just falls away from the bone. If you can’t find smoked garlic then just use normal; but really do make the effort – it gives a fantastic flavour. You could – and I’m just riffing here – try using normal garlic alongside Schlenkerla Rauch to get the required smokiness. Give it a try. This recipe will serve three, or two hungry beer-cooks. Eat with more Achel, if you have it; Westmalle, Petrus Oud Bruin or Corsendonk would also be a good substitutes if not.


About leighgoodstuff

Blog: I'm Leigh Linley; born and bred in Leeds, and writing about it since 2005. TGS exists solely to highlight the great beers that are out there; brewed with passion by Craft Brewers around the World. I also edit the 'Tavern Tales' section of Culture Vulture, which looks at Pubs and Pub Life rather than the beer in the glass.

Posted on 18/10/2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Ah favourite Greek dish of mine. It’s one of those dishes that you end up ordering the same thing every night on holiday and become apologetic to the waiter that you’ll have “the usual”. More greet looking food and marvelous beer. Nice work.. carry on!

  2. Just looking at the opening picture says it all, “Phil you need to make this”….

    Two quick questions Leigh.

    Was it a large bottle of Achels or the 330cl, just in terms of content?

    Also, smoked garlic, sounds fantastic but Mrs H isn’t a fan of smoked anything, does it mellow in the sauce or is the smoke prominent as I’ve not cooked with it before?

    For anyone who has not tasted Achels Bruin it’s a great beer by the way, but in terms of drinking it, always go for the large bottle, it’s far less carbonated and has a noticeably smoother feel, good recommendation Ghosty.


    • Phil – it was the 330cl. As for the smoke – it is there, albeit smooth rather than in-your-face. You could make the sauce without the smoked garlic and smoked beer – just add a little more brown sugar and maybe two dashes of malt vinegar. Stifado (which this is based on) relys on a sweet/sour sort of note. Give it a try!

  3. Do you mean to say add the whole *head*, or bulb, or whatever, rather than the whole *clove*?

    This sounds great. Always interesting to see an original recipe evolve from another, based on intelligent substitutions and improvisation. Rauchbier for the sauce sounds clever, too.

  4. Hey there, thanks for visiting my blog – I’m glad I checked yours because it looks deliciously awesome!

  5. Oh, I’m all over this.

  6. I did this meal twice and the second time I have added a bay leaves in the recipe with a delicious result!

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